I just got back from the 2018 CMA Fest in Nashville and thought I would post this for all who have never been and are looking for insight and tips.
This was my first time there and I can confidently say, it will not be my last! The entire event was awesome, well-planned, organized and SO much fun!
The 4-day passes are ONLY required for the night time concerts at Nissan Stadium, early access to the multiple FREE stages all around the city and for any Fan Fair events around town. I would highly recommend, as the performers at Nissan Stadium are all A-listers and you get 5-6 mini-concerts each night! (Luke, Carrie, Blake, Thomas, Jason, Darius, FGL, etc)
All the other stages around town are FREE concerts, which usually run from 10:00am -5:00pm. Riverfront Stage, close to Nissan Stadium, seems to be the more popular acts.
There are food trucks lined up all weekend, so if you are looking for a quick bite and do not want to got to a restaurant, you have options. Most all of the Bars also have food, so you definitely will not starve.
There are no cover charges at any of the bars, but beer/drinks range from $6 - $12 each.
Water on the streets is offered everywhere for $1 a bottle. At Nissan Stadium, Water is $5, Beer is $10 and cocktails are $11-$13.
The worst (tongue in cheek) thing about this festival is that there are TOO many concerts/events going on at all times. You need to plan who you want to see and where they will be. There is no way you can do it all, so you really need to decide what your top things to do each day are and plan around that.
We stayed at the Westin, which was a GREAT hotel with a rooftop pool, but it is a bit of a walk to Nissan Stadium (Straight down Demonbreun Street, to the Pedestrian Bridge). Forget about taking UBER after the concert. The lines and traffic are insane and a lot of the streets are closed for the festival. You can walk 5 miles, before you will get to where you want in an UBER, after the Concerts at Nissan Stadium, so plan on a lot of walking.
Here are my tips:
-Plan each day out in advance (at least what/who is a must-see)
-Forget the Cowboy Boots; wear comfortable flip flops, sandals or tennis shoes
-Bring lots of hats...all kinds...the sun is hot and there is not a lot of shade (except in the bars, of course)
-Paper Fans are handed out everywhere, so you won't need to bring one from home
-Shorts, Sundresses and Tanks will be all you need. No body dresses up.
-Plan on two outfits a day, as you are going to sweat and not want to re-wear anything a second time
-Drink lots and lots of water (especially if you are drinking alcohol)
-Take Cash, as some places only accept cash
-Baby Powder...keeps you dry and cool throughout the day
-Be prepared to buy stuff! There are huge sales on boots, belts, hats, souvenirs, etc.
-Make sure to download the CMA app and Twitter on your phone. SURPRISE pop-up concerts/events/contests/giveaways happen all week and the notifications are sent out last minute through the app and on Twitter. (Think Garth Brooks!)
-Plan on taking hundreds of pictures, so carry your phone charger with you, as you will most likely drain your battery
-If you go to the concerts at Nissan Stadium, don't plan on getting out of there until after midnite
-You must carry a clear, stadium bag (12x6), into Nissan Stadium. NO backpacks, medium+ sized purses, or souvenir bags allowed! There are Locker/Tubs available for $10 each night at the front gates of the stadium, if you happen to have purchased a lot of souvenirs and didn't have a chance to drop it off at your hotel.
-UBER to/from the airport to the Westin downtown Nashville was $16 and took 15 minutes.Super easy and quick. No delays coming or going at all.
-If you are driving, make sure to secure parking in advance. Parking is a bit of a nightmare and tow trucks are everywhere, prepared to tow.
Lastly, this was one of the best festivals I have attended and I am planning on coming back every year going forward...just better prepared! :)
Hope this was useful.
SW from Charlotte, NC